Frankenstein Review - Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne

Mary Shelley’s ghost story, first published in 1818, is updated by writer Sean Aydon and set in Germany during the Second World War. It’s chilling from beginning to end and absolutely captured a first night audience at The Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne. 

As the play opens, the stage is set with a rustic wooden hut in the middle of a forest. A weary middle-aged woman, dressed for a cold winter, hangs up her hat on a peg and settles down for the night. There is then the most alarming and insistent banging on the wooden door.

Enter a young woman, who is clearly frozen to the bone and pleads to be taken in. The old woman pulls a gun on her and demands to know why she is there. No one survives in this forbidding place she says. People don’t come here for holidays. Basienka Blake as the resident of the hut and Eleanor McLoughlin as the young woman pleading for asylum are both utterly convincing. It’s a chilling start to a haunting tale.

As the story unfolds, we hear both their stories. The younger woman is Dr Victoria Frankenstein. She has created a monster she says, and she must find him. He’s out there in the forest and he’s dangerous. He must be stopped. Her reluctant host demands to know the full story.

The set, designed by Nicky Bunch then opens up to reveal Dr Frankenstein’s huge laboratory with a massive sloping window and shelves of glass bottles – and a bed on which a figure lies covered by a white sheet. Frankenstein and her assistant Francine (a powerful performance from Annette Hannah) know this is the night they must bring these mis-matched body parts to life.

This will be night of a fierce storm. The power of electricity will galvanise the figure back to life. It will live only for a few minutes, Frankenstein assures Francine. But they leave the room after the experiment and when they return, he has gone.

Cameron Robertson is terrifyingly good as the monster. “You didn’t even give me a name” he cries in anguish. He is so repellent that people scream and quiver at him on sight. He is lonely and he demands that the remorseful Frankenstein make him a companion.

This was an interesting play performed with depth and balance focusing not just on the monster but on the human failings of his maker....A must watch! 

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